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Demands Mounted Against the Expiration of Statute of Limitations

January 31, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A five-member delegation of Yavneh, the National Religious Jewish Student Association, met today with the German Acting Consul General in New York, Kurt-Arthur, Schwartze, and handed him a message addressed to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, urging him to issue an open statement opposing the expiration of the statute of limitations for Nazi war crimes. The statute is to expire Dec. 31.

“We had a cordial conversation with the Acting Consul,” said David Phillips, chairman of the Yavneh National Executive Committee, who headed the delegation at the German Consulate. Schwartze told the delegation that he will forward the message to Schmidt, but, Phillips said, “he pointed out that action regarding the abolishment of the statute of limitations, is up to the Bundestag.”

During their 20-minute conversation, Schwartze mentioned the NBC-TV series “Holocaust” which was broadcast last week to German viewers and reportedly had a very strong impact on them. According to Phillips, Schwartze said that the “Holocaust” broadcast will probably make a positive contribution to the efforts to extend the effective date of the statute of limitations for Nazi crimes.

While the Yavneh delegation met with Schwartze, other members of the group distributed leaflets on the issue and gathered signatures of passersby on a petition against the expiration of the statute of limitations.

The meeting here was part of an international outcry protesting the time limit imposed on prosecuting war criminals and is part of a national effort coordinated by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles, Calif.


In Chicago, a delegation of 10 civic and communal leaders met with the West German Consul General, Egon Rastor. The delegation was led by David Smerling, president of the Jewish-United Fund and Jewish Federations of Metropolitan Chicago, and Maynard I. Wishner, honorary chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the JUF. “Our basic message was that there can be no time limit placed on the prosecution of crimes of murder and torture,” Smerling and Wishner said.

They cited a recent poll showing that 47 percent of West Germans agree with their position. “The systematic mass murder of six million Jewish men women and children and of five million Christians is a crime so heinous that the passing of centuries cannot erase this impact,” the leaders said. “Retribution for these crimes is a right owed to the families and descendants of all Holocaust victims.”

In Los Angeles, a delegation of concerned Jewish and non-Jewish leaders met with Dr. Herwig Effenberg, Consul General of West Germany and formally requested that the Bonn government begin its legislative process to either abolish or extend the statute of limitations. While the 20-member delegation conferred with the Consul General a silent vigil took place outside the office of the meeting.

Eleven Holocaust survivors and 11 children of Holocaust survivors stood together, representing the 11 million victims who were murdered by the Nazis. Following the meeting a “Rally for Justice” was held at the Wiesenthal Center. California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. addressed the rally.

Similar events were held today in other major cities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. (Further stories will be in Thursday’s Bulletin.)

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